AT&T offers businesses a smartphone credit-card payment service

Credit and debit cards can be used for payment over smartphone link

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AT&T Inc. today announced a service for small and midsize businesses that want to use smartphones to accept credit and debit card transactions from customers. The service is based on technology from Apriva, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based manufacturer of wireless payment devices.

The service starts at $14.95 a month per smartphone in addition to monthly voice and data costs, according to AT&T's Web site.

Apriva announced the two software products underpinning the AT&T service in January. One, called AprivaPay, is browser-based and allows a business to process a credit or debit card transaction through most mobile phone browsers. A service worker, for example, could use the system to accept a credit card for payment in the field.

The other product, called AprivaPay Professional, offers more features with software that must be downloaded onto a smartphone. It can be integrated with a credit-card reader device and a device for printing receipts.

Apriva has offered a wide array of mobile payment devices, including the VeriFone line of wireless transaction terminals, for many years.

AT&T is offering the AprivaPay Professional service for download to Windows Mobile devices, although Apriva has said it will eventually also offer Android, iPhone and BlackBerry versions.

Mobile payments reached $68 billion globally in 2009 and should exceed $600 billion by 2014, according to Generator Research, a firm that AT&T quoted in its statement announcing the Apriva service. Mobile payments made using credit cards over smartphones account for just a small percentage of that total market. Most mobile payments today are made via SMS, or text, message, and mostly in undeveloped areas of the world, such as the Asia-Pacific region and Africa, according to Gartner Inc.

Compared with other major regions of the world, North America has the fewest users of mobile payment technology, Gartner said.

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